Thursday, June 18, 2009

Media Take Note: *This* Is How to Do a Dad Story

Yesterday, my post detailed how the Today Show, a profitable arm of the largest company in the world, could not manage to produce a story on at-home dads with any depth or originality at all. So what *would* a deep, original at-home dad story look like?

Probably a lot like yesterday's USA Today piece on the "new daditude." This is the single best piece of journalism on fathers this year, and maybe the best in memory. I could go, blow-by-blow, through the whole thing, but it would be more efficient if you just went and read it.

What makes the piece so great? For starters, author Sharon Jayson talks to just about every expert on the new fatherhood: they have Kyle Pruett from Yale, who has been doing this forever. She has Aaron Rochlen from Texas, who is as smart as he is a nice guy. She has a couple of other academics who are new to me. She quote Jeremy Adam Smith (of the wonderful Daddy Shift) and she chooses, as the centerpiece of the article, the guys from DadLabs, who are great spokespeople for the idea that fatherhood is a) important and b) not the same as motherhood.

There is also the absolutely needed to-be-sure section of the piece. Whatever revolution in fatherhood may be taking place, it's not happening everywhere at the same pace. And it's worth remembering that before anyone declares victory over old stereotypes.

There will be a flood of stories about dads over the next three days, most of them retreads following old formulas. If we're lucky, though, more and more reporting will take Jayson's piece as a model and try to figure out exactly what's going on with today's dad.

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